Sunday, 27 July 2008

Extraordinary Encounters (Number 2)

It is Sunday evening. We Canadians have used the day for worship, for relaxation, and for socializing. Steve and Neil travelled to Whistable on the North Sea coast for the final day of their Oyster Festival. We other three relaxed over tea, scones and clotted cream.

Our "Sunday" began yesterday evening at a Eucharist hosted by the Inclusive Church Network, which was very well attended (they had arranged catering for the post-Eucharist party for 150; apprently, the count at the beginning of the Eucharist was 151). The celebrant for this inclusive Eucharist was Archbishop Carlos Touché-Porter of the Iglesia anglicana de Mexico.

Did you know that there were Anglicans in Mexico? Our Mexican Church may be small, but it is one of the fastest growing in the world, attracting Roman Catholics disenchanted with the hard-hearted doctrinal statements which continue to emanate from the Vatican.

Archbishop Touché-Porter is trying to organize an international Anglican coalition which he refers to as the "Global Centre" (as compared with the "Global South" under the putative leadership of Nigerian Archbishop Peter Akinola). This coalition incorporates Anglican Provinces such as Brazil, South India, Sri Lanka and Central America. The growth potential of these churches would be lost if this Lambeth Conference should decide that we need to become a confessional church, or that we need international canon law. Archbishop Touché-Porter led an inspring worship.

During the party which followed the Eucharist was a book-launch for the Inclusive Church's most recent publication. Another remarkable Anglican took the lead: Archbishop Idris Jones, Primus of the Episcopal Church of Scotland. He had this to say from the lobby staircase at Keynes College: "Some in the Communion are calling for a "New Reformation". So be it, but let it be a new Reformation, not a re-hash of the Reformation of 300 years ago. Let us find a New Reformation which unlocks the Gospel for a new generation, and for a changed and changing world!"

My most moving experience of the week was, however, the Friday afternoon discussion organized by Inclusive Church and hosted at St Stephen's Parish. The Very Reverend Rowan Smith is Dean of the Cathedral in Capetown, South Africa. Before speaking, he passed around a small, green identity card. On it was a (much younger) photograph of him, in a clerical collar, his name, and this notation: "Cape Coloured". Until 1994, this card determined where he could travel, where he could reside, and who he would be permitted to marry.

With remarkable grace, he told the story of the end of apartheid, and his own experience as a gay man in the Church of Southern Africa. He did not focus on bitterness. He shared the story of reconciation.

He spoke of the creation of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and his personal relationship with its Chair, Archbishop Desmond Tutu. But he stressed that an essential part of the Commission was something called "The Listening Process".

At Lambeth 1998, the bishops promised we gay, lesbian and transgendered believers a "Listening Process". In 1988 and in 1978 the called on the Anglican Provinces to listen to our experience.

We are still waiting

1 comment:

Julie H. Ferguson said...

I am very much enjoying your blog. Keep up the good work!